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Barnish Group is focused on world-class content, communications and marketing technologies. We advise both startup, scale-up and enterprises on both strategy and execution.

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A letter to British Airways: Would you treat your mother this way?

Yesterday you lost my 80 year old mother and had me in a panic that she was in real trouble.

She was supposed to be assisted in a wheelchair as she chipped her ankle bone! Instead she had to abandon her wheelchair and only managed to get through it because of help from other passengers.

I have only had this over the phone so far from a UK hotel but how would you feel about a company that treats your mother this way?

At Manchester ..

You would not let her check in without filling a computerized form, and would/could not help her fill in the form. We checked multiple times beforehand to make sure she had all the documentation she needed. Apparently it took her and her helper we paid to get her to the check in an hour to fill in this computer form so she promptly was crying in front of the crowd. When she pulled herself together and did it with only 20 mins to check in and get to gate. You then rushed her off and wheeled her to the plane or to some holding area.

The fog meant that the plane sat on the runway for 3 hours in Manchester. You tried to unload some passengers off the flight - thankfully she resisted and stayed as I had no way of getting her back from the airport easily.

At Heathrow ..

When she did get to LHR somehow they told her she missed the flight (duh - you don’t have computers that tell you this?) dumped her in some holding area where she made an (82 year old) friend and eventually together they decided to go check on status again as no-one was coming back. Eventually they booked her into the local Renaissance hotel with 120 other people — she only got there at 8pm after traveling on since 7:30am for a 11:20AM manchester flight.

At this point, she and her friend gave up on wheelchairs and were hobbling around Heathrow together. Eventually my mother persuaded some random stranger to use his cell phone and called me from the airport. At this point, my mother and her friend decided it was ‘safer’ to room together as they lost faith that BA would look after their interests.

Meanwhile, back in California ..

No notification from BA of flight delays or missed at all. Founds it from one of my travel apps.

I call BA a lot of times starting at 7am PST. First call into BA took perhaps an hour - the agent simply was not understanding me - who rather than reassure me that they would deal with it, literally told me that ‘she checked in at Manchester but not in London. Its an airport authority matter now .. here is the number from their web site.’ I think I would just have assumed they were dealing with it as they normally do with delays and putting them up if he hadn’t said that.

I call the the airport numbers a bunch of times. Eventually I get to someone (several hours later) who tell me you can’t page someone at Heathrow any more. They can’t help. Not our problem. Call BA. They even suggest I call the police and gave me their number.

I start contacting friends locally to go to the airport and find her.

I call 2-3 hotels in area. No one checked in with that name.

I call BA a bunch of times more — lines busy. Eventually your agent who does pick up find her record > going to Renaissance hotel. Call Renaissance hotel - no sign. Call Renaissance hotel 5 times more. No luck.

Then I get a call from my mother (5-6pm local time?). Still at airport.

Eventually get to her at 11pm checked in to hotel and she is on a flight today.

This was beyond not a great experience, both for me and my mother. You can’t do anything about fog. You can do something about how you handle passengers and what you say to people when calling in. I’m sure I’ll find the full story later today.

How to tell a business story for B2B sales and marketing. A best practice.

We’re often asked, how do you define a business story?  How do you create an elevator pitch?  

 Here’s the formula that works for us ..

You should be able to tell an engaging ‘why us’ business story in 60 seconds, 3-5 minutes, or 20 minutes on a call or whiteboard as part of a larger meeting.  Effective sales stories are designed from the listeners perspective compared to our value, not from an internal product perspective.

  1. Stories are made up of messages, which are short substantiated assertions in the form of a grammatical sentence linking problems to business value.  In others words, a slide bullet point is not a message.  Messages are different from soundbites which are used in stories and are short, illuminating & memorable phrases also used for effect to make a point.
  2. Stories reframe the argument in our favor as they are told.  Any question can result in an answer that bridges to our story.  
  3. Messages, value props and stories must pass the CURE test: Credible, Unique, Realistic, backed by Evidence.  In general credible third party sourced facts, customer anecdotes and use cases must back up all your messages.
  4. There are some elements in your story that you can adapt depending on who you are talking to (e.g. depending on their business drivers or the pain points). But retain the structure.
  5. Don’t use product names, technical acronyms or internal  jargon.  Stay with business value of technology.
  6. While the story remains the same, the way that you tell it varies depending on the time you have available.  For example, while a full story will certainly take a few minutes to tell, an elevator pitch that is 60 seconds long is told emphasizing key soundbites per ‘floor’ that ‘stick’ when you walk out of the elevator.   Because a white board pitch has to be written and read while the listening is sitting, it can take longer and has to link written with spoken thoughts - so it should have a consistent repeatable layout that can be learned and retained.
  7. Whatever you do, make the story your own and talk so people really listen and engage.  Especially use your own anecdotes and examples.

Outline for business stories

Always start with a soundbite or summary of the story you are about to tell.  In other words, tell them what you are going to tell them.  For example “Here’s how we manage your social media to allow your employees to connect safely with your customers.”   This establishes why the listener should care to listen further.  End by proposing some next steps and ask for commitment.

From this point, the rest of the story has four basic parts: 

  1. Start by engaging them with what’s on their mind and framing the problem.  Starting with broad statements about other customers’ problems you’re solving or what you know that they don’t from talking to other people like them. It doesn’t have to just be problems - what do they need to know to care?    Then build this into resulting implications, opportunities and risks. Be sure to establish your credibility:  for example, here’s how we learned this.
  2. Describe our solution to these problems succinctly.  So what’s the answer?  Plus, overall, how is this different or better (use the words first, only, best) from alternatives?  Not all alternatives but the listeners nearest choice alternatives.
  3. Wrap up by reinforcing our advantages (sprinkled with evidence or examples).  Here’s why you should consider us ..  Here are there other advantages to choosing us ..  Here’s what else should you know ..
  4. Paint a picture of the resulting overall value.  How will your offering change the listeners life?  What metrics or use cases you use to prove the value to yourself?

If at any point a customer start engaging and interrupts your story - let them!  Encourage them with broad smart questions that can create a conversation. Such as - were you aware of this?  What are your goals with this?  What challenges to you face like this? Where are you as a company (how mature is your company with ..)?  What’s your next move?  Can we arrange next steps to discuss them?   Ask for commitment to next steps before you conclude.

Getting Adobe Audtion to work when it corrupts ..

1. Open the “Terminal” application (Applications > Utilities > Terminal).

2. Enter the following command and hit enter:

chflags nohidden /Users/Your_User_Name_Here/Library

Go to the following locations and either delete (if you don't need the old preference) or instead re-name these files or move them to another location:

/Users/User_Name/Library/Preferences/Adobe/Audition/4.0/ - Move or delete the "4.0" folder.

/Users/User_Name/Library/Preferences/com.Adobe.Audition.4.0.plist - Move or delete the "com.Adobe.Audition.4.0.plist" file.

Every generation in this century has to think its shocked the last one and come up with something new.  When I was 18 it was punk with people beating their head on the speakers to music no one could hear and hanging revolting objects off your clothes.  

I have to say, I somehow like this Miley Cyrus go at the genre.   I can 100% see this appealing to the 18-19 year olds I know!  The tune is catchy.

Miley Cyrus - We Can’t Stop (by MileyCyrusVEVO)

"One of them is “Meet the Press” host David Gregory, who, after saying journalist Glenn Greenwald “aided and abetted” NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden, demanded to know of the reporter: “Why shouldn’t you be charged with a crime?” On the same “Meet the Press” program, NBC’s Chuck Todd didn’t want to know whether the NSA’s surveillance is illegal, but instead demanded to know “how much was (Greenwald) involved in the plot” to expose the NSA’s potential crimes. They were subsequently followed up by New York Times business reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin, who, after years of writing hagiography that helped Wall Streeters avoid prosecution, called for Greenwald’s arrest."